Saturday, May 29, 2021

2021.05.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:13–20

Read Joel 1:13–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who are commanded to do what two things in Joel 1:13a? What does verse 13b call them? And command them to do? What does verse 13c command, for how long, in what attire; and what does verse 13d now call them? What other service isn’t currently an option, and why (verse 13e–f)? What are they commanded to do in Joel 1:14a? And to call what in verse 14b? Whom are they to gather in verse 14c? And whom else in verse 14d? And whom else does this imply (Joel 1:2-3)? Where are they to go (Joel 1:14e), and what are they to do there (verse 14f)? Where can we find the content of what they are to cry out (Joel 1:15-18)? Over what, first (verse 15a–b)? Why, what about this day (verse 15c)? What shows that this is a day of judgment (Joel 1:16a)? And why is this cutting off of food significant (verse 16b)? What happens when they plant (Joel 1:17a)? What are falling apart from being empty (verse 17b)? And what are breaking down from being empty (verse 17c)? Why are they empty (verse 17d)? Who else is mourning (Joel 1:18a)? Who else is troubled (verse 18b), and why (verse 18c)? Who else is suffering (verse 18d)? Who is the first to heed the prophet’s message (Joel 1:19a)? What has he seen that confirms the commanded cryings out (verse 19b–c, cf. Joel 1:17; and, Joel 1:20, cf. Joel 1:18)? 

How were they to worship, when the material means of that worship had been cut off (Joel 1:13f)? Maybe the priests would just get some time off? Or come up with creative substitutes? Absolutely not!

Rather than rejoicing before God, they were to lead in a worship of lamentation (Joel 1:13a), wailing (verse 13b), prostration in mourning clothes (verse 13c), and crying out. (Joel 1:14f). The whole nation was to participate in this unusual service at the temple (verse 14, cf. Joel 1:2-3).

The plant life (Joel 1:17) and animal life (Joel 1:18) had been brought to a state of humiliation. Now the people were to take the hint (Joel 1:16a) and be humiliated before God as well (verse 16b). 

Yahweh is for His own holiness. Yahweh is for His own worship. And therefore judgment must begin at the household of God (cf. 1 Peter 4:17–18). 

The prophet sets us an example. He might have let himself off the hook, since he is the appointed messenger for others. We are tempted to let ourselves off the hook, thinking about others instead whom we think really need to hear the message that we see in Scripture reading or hear in Scripture preaching. 

But Joel takes it to heart for himself, and switches to the first person singular in Joel 1:19-20, crying out in the manner that has been commanded. He notes the devastation of the plant life (verse 19b–c) and animal life (Joel 1:20), and adds to them his own voice, as he cries out to Yahweh, using the covenant name (Joel 1:19a). 

We should know ourselves as the chief of sinners; so that in repentance we will be the chief of mourners; and however God has commanded it to be done, be the chief of worshipers. Let each of us see to it that we individually and personally take God’s Word to heart.

In what ways have you been trifling with God? What sin have you tolerated? What obedience neglected or offered half-heartedly? What will come of you, if judgment begins with you?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths” or TPH130A “LORD, from the Depths”

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